Friday, April 27, 2012

Rockumentary, Schmockumentary

It's ridiculous.
It really is. There's a lot of Rock documentaries out there, and I've seen a slew. Very few of them offer much more than the old VH-1 ".....and then they hit rock bottom" descending narrative we all know and hate....

But there's a few good ones. Trust me. Have I ever let you down?

There's bands that have had too many made about them. Lord knows, their egos were big enough before being puffed up by celluloid dramatization.

Then there are those that should have had movies made about them that haven't. And chances are they won't. A big swing and a miss was taken earlier this year, when a documentary was made about Replacements fans and not the band themselves....come on, Really?

Big Star had one made on them last year, and I am still trying to track it down without spending a mint.
It also was just finished within the last year.

So, here's my faves.....

1. "Getting the Knack" A solid flick that does a great job examining the working class route of Doug Fieger and the boys, and the downfall that was undeserved....This was finished before the deaths of Bruce Gary, drummer extraordinaire, and Fieger, or it could have been a great testament to the lives of two enormous characters and talents.

2. "We Jam Econo" Another band with unfortunate death surrounding them, the Minutemen's story is born of friendship, fertilized with a great catalog, and ended like so many do, prematurely, with the van crash death of D. Boon. This one had nothing to do with drugs. Bassist Mike Watt has a few moments in interview moments that are downright heartbreaking. Some great rare footage here, and you will also be educated on why George Hurley is the best drummer that ever lived, and more than likely was a better surfer.

3. "End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones" A really well researched and interviewed film....The truest of the tragedies are documented, but grew deeper after the film's end.....Nonetheless, a great film, but tough to absorb if you're a big fan. I wrote a piece on this blog called "The Ramones and the Shakespearean Traedy" and this movie was referred to in the essay. Tough sell to the uninitiated.

4. "The Filth and the Fury" If you don't think that the Sex Pistols weren't the biggest bunch of knobs that ever walked out of the UK, this film will illustrate it for you. Malcolm McLaren really needed to be slapped. The footage of the "Dirty F@#ker" talk show moment is included here. The John Lydon quote "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?", more a statement than a question, which came at the end of the only American tour they ever played in support of "Never Mind the Bollocks" also was filmed and included here. It's title sums it up. As great as their record was, the Pistols' history was black and awful.

5. "Can You Hear the Wind Howl?" Legend begets greatness. Robert Johnson is surrounded by legend. The delta bluesman whose backdrop basically created the sold soul storyline has a rich history, and it's documented greatly here. There were only two photographs taken of the man, so no one could begrudge the filmmakers usage of reenactment footage here, starring Keb Mo in many sequences....despite it's cable tv "docudrama" feel, the movie works.....

I love movies, and when I can learn something, I love them all the more.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Best of the Dallas Films

As a newfound resident of Texas, and an unflappable film buff, I've decided to amalgamate the two and list my 5 favorite Dallas movies, whether located there, or shot there. This should be interesting. As the green witch in the "Woody Woodpecker" cartoons used to say upon take off on her brooms...."....and away we go!!"

5. "The Killer Shrews" 1959 black and white uber-b movie, this is a trash classic indeed. It stars a very young Roscoe P. Coltrane, James Best, as the hero, and the title is self explanatory. Very drab, despite the black and white, thanks to the dirty fields the bulk of the film takes place in. It's supposed to be an island locale, but "I ain't buyin' it."

4. "Talk Radio" I wrote a full piece on this on my blog as it is one of my favorite movies of all time. Eric Bogosian, playwright at the time, now character actor plays an asshole shock jock in the lead with a late night talk show called "Night Talk". Beautifully shot, Dallas looks glorious at night. Oliver does night skies and neon very well, and a shadowy radio booth never seemed so diabolical or oddly enough, pretty.

3. "Frailty" Shot in California, nevertheless Texas is well represented by it's Lone Star cast, Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, and Powers Boothe. Paxton directs a movie with a swirling timeline and twists galore that paints it's evil in uncertain corners. The movie is scary, odd, suspenseful and you won't really know where it is going until it finally takes you there. Highly recommended.

2. "Silent Rage" This laughable Chuck Norris flick is a combination of horror, martial arts, poorly executed romance, poorly executed cautionary tale, and lastly poorly executed Stephen Furst humor. Nonetheless, like a bad accident, you can't take your eyes off of it. It bridges the gap between Indie Chuck Norris and "Missing in Action" Cannon Norris. Quite a pedigree, indeed. Film history...

1. "The Rookie" Another Texan in a Texas movie, this is quietly one of the best performances of Dennis Quaid's quietly remarkable career. He plays real life late bloomer and big leaguer Jim Morris, who inexplicably develops a blazing fastball and makes the majors at an incredibly unexpected age. Nicely done, it doesn't suffer from the rah-rahs, it's quietly uplifting without being sappy. Too bad the same can't be said of it's trailer.